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Web Collaborations

The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other "born-digital" materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come.

Smithsonian Institution's 1996 US Election Display

Page from a snapshot of the Web, now in the Smithsonian A display at the Smithsonian Institution shows how presidential candidates and parties first used the Web. The display includes 1996 campaign pages for five political parties — as well as pages such as the "Steve Forbes Official Home Page" and the "Official Internet Headquarters of the [Pat] Buchanan Brigade," which were captured before some candidates dropped out of the race and scaled back or shut down their sites.

The display also includes pages from the Federal Election Commission site with financial information about candidates, parties, and political action committees.


World Wide Web 1997: 2 Terabytes in 63 Inches

Sculpture of 1997 Web snapshot in the lobby of the Library of Congress

What would a snapshot of the Web look like? Visitors passing through the lobby of the Library of Congress get the picture when they see a sculpture — a stack of computer screens and tapes housing a snapshot of the Web in early 1997 — by Alan Rath. The Internet Archive is proud to have part of its collections in the Library of Congress.

Data gift of Alexa Internet

Watch a demo of the sculpture


Xerox PARC Research Projects

"It Grows on Its Own Like an Ecosystem"

The Internet Ecologies Area at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center is using multiple snapshots from the Internet Archive on disk — "the Web in a box" — as a kind of test tube for understanding the Web. "We see the Web as an ‘information ecology,’ where we study the relationships between people and information," says PARC researcher Jim Pitkow.

PARC "benefited greatly" from access to the Archive’s crawls, says Pitkow’s colleague and Stanford physics professor Bernardo Huberman. According to Pitkow, access to the snapshots "is great for researchers because it lets them fuse traditional tools and techniques with new tools that haven’t existed before."

Huberman describes a PARC study that produced a mathematical "law of surfing," which says that Web traffic follows predictable, regular patterns. For example, in a manifestation of the "winner take all" principle, it turns out that just a few Web sites get most of the traffic. The researchers were also able to show how deeply people delve into a typical Web site: on average, it’s about a page and a half. Huberman has also studied Internet congestion as a social dilemma, where people weigh the costs and benefits of putting up with slow traffic versus waiting until the network is less crowded.

In a study of the topology of the Web, a Stanford graduate student working on PARC’s Internet ecology project found that any two Web sites are no more than four clicks away from each other — hard evidence that the world is smaller than it seems, on the Web at least.

Research on this scale and of this complexity makes new thinking possible in a whole range of fields, from graph theory to sociology. Pitkow compares what’s happening to the Einstein-era thrust past the limitations of Newtonian physics into quantum mechanics: "The Web," he says, "requires a whole new form of understanding."

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